Over 100 Android Apps on Google Play Found to Be Infected With Windows Malware

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 132 apps were found infected with malware
  • The security firm traced the infected apps to a common location
  • Malware were downloaded from domains that have been disabled

Android has been known to suffer malware attacks from time to time. Just recently in December, it was reported that a malware called ‘Gooligan’ breached accounts of more than a million users. Now, a bizarre new type of malware has been detected in around 132 apps in Google Play that had the ability to affect Windows users, according to a security firm.

Palo Alto Networks discovered the malware-ridden apps and reported them to Google to have them removed from Google Play. The Internet security team in a blog post said that the apps, which were developed by several different people, managed to hide HTML-based iframe tags. The iframe tags, which are generally used to embed external elements in a webpage, like a YouTube video, was also loading elements from malicious domains. In one case, an app didn’t use iframe but Microsoft’s Visual Basic language to load malicious code into the app.

In the report, Palo Alto Networks traces the infected apps to a common geographical location even though the developers are unrelated. Most of the apps are said to originate from Indonesia, since the country’s name was attached to the names of the apps.Over 100 Android Apps on Google Play Found to Be Infected With Windows Malware

“One common way HTML files have been infected with malicious iframes has been through file infecting viruses like Ramnit. After infecting a Windows host, these viruses search the hard drive for HTML files and append iframes to each document. If a developer was infected with one of these viruses, their app’s HTML files could be infected,” the report notes.

The reports goes on to suggest that the malicious nature of the apps was not intentional and that the developers simply did not realise that their apps’ HTML files were infected when uploading their apps to Google Play. Furthermore, the purpose of the malware was to load interstitial ads and the main malicious applications, elaborates Ars Technica.

These Windows-specific malware were downloaded from domains that have long since been disabled. So while the apps themselves aren’t a threat on Android devices, it still raises concerns on Google’s app screening process, and why it failed to identify the infected apps.

How to travel with babies and young kids

 

It should not be a stressful affair when travelling with your kids, so think positive and smile – you’re on vacation! (illustration: RL)

SINGAPORE: I am a mother of two young children and I’m known for both making travel plans way in advance and jumping on a plane with the kids on a whim for a long weekend somewhere. My little ones already know this as a way of life. In fact, travel has been an intrinsic part of their childhood from when they were only two months old.

Travelling at a young age has also made them adaptable, think quick on their feet and feel comfortable in new environments. In fact, the younger they are, the easier it is to travel. Here’s how.

TRAVELLING WITH BABIES

The first thing to remember about bringing a baby on board a plane is to have exactly what you need and nothing more. You don’t want to carry too many things (especially toys) that you could lose or drop, so I always prefer a streamlined approach.

Invest in a good baby carrier and travel pram. It leaves your hands free and is the best choice for any kind of travel. Carrying heavier babies all day may leave you sweating and achy, so get a foldable stroller with a shoulder sling for city breaks.

Pack only the essentials. Here’s what should go in your baby bag: Some diapers, milk paraphernalia (if Mummy is not nursing), baby wipes and extra change of clothes for baby and parents because accidents happen. Otherwise, don’t bring anything that you can easily acquire at your destination (especially disposables).Image result for How to travel with babies and young kids

Choose your seats well. Not all of us can travel business class all the time. When travelling economy, spend the cash where you may need it. Book the row with the bassinet or seats with a bit more legroom (although I actually prefer to be able to place my bag under the seat in front of me for easy access).

TRAVELLING WITH YOUNG KIDS

Depending on how you see it, you can have fun with older tots and kids on your travels. Once they are able to walk and talk, you can get them to participate a little more on the trip.

Get them involved. Start with simple things like carrying their own backpacks or watching a younger sibling while you check in. Tell them what gate you’re looking for as you walk through the departure hall.

Make them sleep. Make sure they go to the toilet before boarding the plane and before a meal is served. Then use the sleep eye masks on them! Depending on the time difference when you land, you either want your kids to be ready to start the day or for bed. For long-haul travel, sufficient rest is a must to prevent jet lag and keep kids from getting cranky.

Special treats. It could be a book, toy or snack that your kids can enjoy only when they are on holiday. This can distract them from long waiting times. For example, my children are not hooked on gadgets, so watching a movie on the plane becomes something special, plus they never ask for the iPad when we are not on vacation.

Special meals: Always make sure to request for child meals when you are booking the flight (they don’t always come automatically with a child fare for some carriers). Also, remember to ask for a souvenir kids pack; some airlines include quite nifty items like travel shoe bags or bandannas.

Managing expectations. Tell them how much longer they have to spend in the car, train or plane and give them something constructive to do such as drawing the things that they have seen on the trip to give as gifts to their grandparents. For older children, writing in a travel journal is another useful way of integrating learning with holidays.

The top priority when travelling with children is to remember that they are looking to you for model good behaviour. If you are a fussy, frantic traveller, and always complaining to service staff, chances are you kids would be too. If you can make it look easy, then your kids are likely adapt to your style.  So think positive, keep your arms free to hold their hands and smile – you are on vacation!

Ana Ow is a full-time copywriter and freelance writer. Her two children, 8 and 5 years old, have been travelling with her since they were three months old. Places they have been to include the Taj Mahal, Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall of China, Niagara Falls and many others.

 

Amazon reportedly working on proper Android ‘Ice’ smartphones with Google’s apps

 

Amazon might be taking another shot at building its own smartphones, according to a new report from NDTV’s Gadget 360And unlike the company’s failed Fire Phone, the new smartphones — allegedly branded “Ice” — would have access to the full line of Google services and apps, including the Play Store.

The report notes that the Ice line would be targeted at emerging markets like India, instead of the more US-facing focus of the original Fire Phone. As such, the rumored specs for one of the Ice phones fall in line with that goal: a screen between 5.2 and 5.5 inches, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, and a Snapdragon 435 processor. Gadget 360 claims that this specific model would retail for roughly $93 at launch, although that price could change before launch.

Per Gadget 360’s source, the Ice phone doesn’t have Alexa support, but, like the price, details aren’t finalized which means software, too, could change in the future.

The original Fire Phone was a failure for a multitude of reasons, including a focus on gimmicky features, an expensive price tag, exclusivity to AT&T, and a bizarre operating system. It sold extremely poorly, even with Amazon slashing prices only weeks after launch. But perhaps the biggest failure was the dearth of apps by not using Google Mobile Services, in essence leaving customers with a confusingly skinned Android phone that didn’t really run any Android apps. It sounds like Amazon is taking a different approach with the Ice line, by embracing Google’s services and targeting a different slice of the smartphone market than the Apple-and-Samsung-dominated high-end segment.

If the Ice rumors are true, Amazon could have a big opportunity in emerging market places. Google has made no secret of its desire to put Android phones in the hands of “the next billion users” with initiatives like Android Go and Android One; an Amazon hardware push would certainly go a long way toward getting Google

 

Nubia Z17 mini With Dual Rear Camera Launched in India: Price, Release Date, Specifications, and More

 

Just a few days after launching the Nubia Z17 premium smartphone in China, ZTE brand Nubia has now announced the Z17 mini for the Indian market. The mid-ranged smartphone from Nubia is priced at Rs. 19,999 and will be exclusively available on Amazon India starting 12pm IST on June 12 in Black Gold colour with pre-registrations beginning today at www.nubiaz17mini.com.

To recall, the Nubia Z17 mini was launched in China back in April, in 4GB RAM and 6GB RAM variants. The company has only brought the former to India. In terms of design, the Nubia Z17 mini looks identical to the Z17, only with a smaller 5.2-inch full-HD (1080×1920) display with 424ppi and Gorilla Glass on top. Similar to Z17, the Nubia Z17 mini features a slim form factor with almost no bezels on the the left and right sides of the display. The smartphone features a metal unibody design with a dual rear camera setup on the back along with a fingerprint sensor.

Since the Nubia Z17 mini is a slightly stripped down version of the premium variant, you’ll find that it is powered by a 64-bit octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor coupled with 4GB of RAM. Nubia Z17 mini With Dual Rear Camera Launched in India: Price, Release Date, Specifications, and MoreThe dual camera setup on the back feature a pair of 13-megapixel Sony sensors (Monochrome + RGB) with f/2.2 aperture, NeoVision 6.0 and protected by Sapphire Glass. The front sees a 16-megapixel camera with 80-degree wide angle, 5P lens, and f/2.0 aperture. The smartphone runs on Nubia UI 4.0 based on Android Marshmallow. Nubia says that the camera offers 16 different modes other than pro and normal modes. The dual rear camera combines multi-view and dynamic features to create an interactive 3D motion picture.
Connectivity options include Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac, GPS, GLONASS, and USB Type-C port. The company says that the smartphone supports 2.4G/5G dual-band WiFi, with upload speeds reaching 430Mbps. The Nubia Z17 mini is fitted with a 2950mAh non-removable battery and measures at 7.45mm in thickness. It is offered with 64GB of inbuilt storage, which is expandable via microSD card (up to 200GB). It sports an accelerometer, ambient light sensor, gyroscope, and proximity sensor. It measures 146.65×72.5×7.45mm and weighs 155 grams

“Nubia is committed to setting new performance standards with every product and inspire creative expression of India’s next generation. We are committed to drive and deliver changes in mobile photography across the globe and in India, with Nubia Z17 mini we are raising the bar high for a mobile phone camera and are confident that users across India will accept and appreciate the device,” said Eric Hu, Country Head, Nubia India.

 

Amazon Aims to Put Fire Phone Nightmare Behind With ‘Ice’ Smartphones

 

HIGHLIGHTS
Amazon is testing ‘Ice’ smartphones running Android
These phones will come with Google apps and services
One smartphone being tested could launch around Rs. 6000 (around $97)
Amazon plans to have another go at selling its own branded smartphones.

The ecommerce giant, which killed off its Fire Phone in 2015, is working on a new lineup of smartphones branded as “Ice”, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Unlike the Fire Phone — for which Amazon focused largely on the US and a couple of other western markets — the company is eyeing emerging markets like India for selling its new phones, said the sources.

Amazon’s upcoming smartphones run the latest version of Google’s Android operating system with Google Mobile Services (GMS) such as Gmail and Google Play, the people said.

Incorporating Google Mobile Services in its devices is a major change in strategy for Amazon, which currently offers a range of Android tablets without Google apps on them.

The smartphones are being referred to as ‘Ice’ internally, in what could be a move to distance itself from the disastrous Fire Phone brand, though it’s not clear if Amazon will eventually bring the devices under the Ice name. Amazon declined to comment.

The company plans to launch at least one smartphone in India within this year, said one source.Amazon Aims to Put Fire Phone Nightmare Behind With 'Ice' Smartphones

One of the devices being tested features a display between 5.2-inch and 5.5-inch. Other specifications of the phone include a 13-megapixel rear-camera, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage. The phone runs Android 7.1.1 and comes with Google’s AI Assistant, said a source cited above. The phone, which houses a Snapdragon 435 SoC and a fingerprint scanner on the back, is likely to be priced at around Rs 6,000 (roughly $93), though the exact price will depend upon the time of launch.

The person, who has seen and used the device, said the phone didn’t have Alexa on it. Alexa is Amazon’s AI-powered digital assistant that you can find on Echo speakers, as well as some refrigerators and other consumer devices.

The phone runs a software build that isn’t finalised yet, and Alexa could make it to the device by the time of launch, the person said.
Neither Alexa nor Echo speakers are available in India just yet. The company, however, is seemingly working on bringing Alexa-powered speakers in the country, recent job listings by the company suggest.

It’s not clear when Amazon began working on ‘Ice’ phones. The company had launched Android-powered Fire Phone in 2014. But after receiving a dull response from the market — reportedly selling under 35,000 units — a year later the company said it had sold all Fire Phone inventory and that it won’t be “replenishing the stock.”

Many customers who did end up purchasing the device weren’t pleased with the Fire Phone. Though Amazon maintains its own Android app store, the lack of Google apps on the Fire Phone emerged as a deal-breaker for many.

But for Amazon, which is increasingly looking at new areas for expansion, having a stake in the smartphone space is still important, analysts say.

“Part of Amazon’s challenge overall is that beyond e-commerce its ecosystem is still pretty weak, especially outside the US and a couple of other markets. And it’s typically also relegated to a secondary role on devices which come with either Apple or Google services (or in some cases Samsung’s or other OEMs’) integrated,” says Jan Dawson, founder and chief analyst at Jackdaw Research.

“So creating its own line of phones where Amazon apps and services are pre-installed and tightly integrated could be a great way to spread its ecosystem in those markets,” Dawson told Gadgets 360, arguing that for Amazon having tighter integration of its apps on the device is more crucial than assuming control of the operating system itself.

“This new strategy targets a very different market from the Fire Phone, and so it requires a different approach (and arguably this approach would have been much better for the Fire Phone too),” he added.

The phones could also benefit Amazon in its AI efforts. “It’s a move that will help Amazon get hold of the massive data channelised through smartphones that can serve as fodder for their AI engine,” Tarun Pathak, senior analyst at Counterpoint Research told Gadgets 360.

But even for Amazon, which has committed more than $5 billion in investment to the India market, selling its own phones could prove challenging, Dawson said. The company has yet to prove that there is a need for its phones in the market. And it doesn’t help when you’re competing with an army of Chinese manufacturers operating on razor-thin margins.

 

Google makes the best Android apps easier to find with Android Excellence

 

Google wants you to find the best apps faster, so it’s introduced a new section to the Play Store called Android Excellence. The banner on the Editor’s Choice page will spotlight apps and games that “deliver incredible user experiences on Android, use many of our best practices, and have great design, technical performance, localization, and device optimization.”

Last month, Google spotlighted the winners of its second annual Google Play Awards. Several of the apps are, not surprisingly, represented on the Android Excellence page. Google says this list will be updated quarterly with hand-picked selections from its editorial team. Check out the first round of apps and games below:

Google Play

Google wants you to find the best apps faster, so it’s introduced a new section to the Play Store called Android Excellence. The banner on the Editor’s Choice page will spotlight apps and games that “deliver incredible user experiences on Android, use many of our best practices, and have great design, technical performance, localization, and device optimization.”

Last month, Google spotlighted the winners of its second annual Google Play Awards. Several of the apps are, not surprisingly, represented on the Android Excellence page. Google says this list will be updated quarterly with hand-picked selections from its editorial team. Check out the first round of apps and games below:

Android Excellence Apps

  • AliExpress by Alibaba Mobile
  • B&H Photo Video by B&H Photo Video
  • Citymapper by Citymapper Limited
  • Drivvo by Drivvo
  • drupe by drupe
  • Evernote by Evernote Corporation
  • Hotel Tonight by HotelTonight
  • Kitchen Stories by Kitchen Stories
  • Komoot by komoot GmbH
  • Lifesum by Lifesum
  • Memrise by Memrise
  • Pocket by Read It Later
  • Runtastic Running & Fitness Tracker by Runtastic
  • Skyscanner by Skyscanner Ltd
  • Sleep as Android by Urbandroid Team
  • Vivino by Vivino

Android Excellence Games

  • After the End Forsaken Destiny by Nexon M Inc.
  • CATS: Crash Arena Turbo Stars by ZeptoLab
  • Golf Clash by Playdemic
  • Hitman GO Square Enix Ltd
  • Horizon Chase – World Tour by Aquiris Game Studio S.A
  • Kill Shot Bravo by Hothead Games
  • Lineage Red Knights by Ncsoft Corporation
  • Nonstop Knight by flaregames
  • PAC-MAN 256 – Endless Maze by Bandai Namco Entertainment Europe
  • Pictionary by Etermax
  • Reigns by DevolverDigital
  • Riptide GP: Renegade by Vector Unit
  • Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes by Electronic Arts
  • Titan Brawl by Omnidrone
  • Toca Blocks by Toca Boca

 

Android Excellence Apps

  • AliExpress by Alibaba Mobile
  • B&H Photo Video by B&H Photo Video
  • Citymapper by Citymapper Limited
  • Drivvo by Drivvo
  • drupe by drupe
  • Evernote by Evernote Corporation
  • Hotel Tonight by HotelTonight
  • Kitchen Stories by Kitchen Stories
  • Komoot by komoot GmbH
  • Lifesum by Lifesum
  • Memrise by Memrise
  • Pocket by Read It Later
  • Runtastic Running & Fitness Tracker by Runtastic
  • Skyscanner by Skyscanner Ltd
  • Sleep as Android by Urbandroid Team
  • Vivino by Vivino

Android Excellence Games

  • After the End Forsaken Destiny by Nexon M Inc.
  • CATS: Crash Arena Turbo Stars by ZeptoLab
  • Golf Clash by Playdemic
  • Hitman GO Square Enix Ltd
  • Horizon Chase – World Tour by Aquiris Game Studio S.A
  • Kill Shot Bravo by Hothead Games
  • Lineage Red Knights by Ncsoft Corporation
  • Nonstop Knight by flaregames
  • PAC-MAN 256 – Endless Maze by Bandai Namco Entertainment Europe
  • Pictionary by Etermax
  • Reigns by DevolverDigital
  • Riptide GP: Renegade by Vector Unit
  • Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes by Electronic Arts
  • Titan Brawl by Omnidrone
  • Toca Blocks by Toca Boca

 

Thai Police Bust ‘Click Farm’ Working With 500 Smartphones, 400,000 SIM Cards to Boost ‘Likes’

 

HIGHLIGHTS
Police discovered Chinese men were running a click farm to generate likes
A rack of some 500 smartphones hooked up to a computer was found
Police also confiscated nearly 400,000 Thai SIM cards
Three Chinese men were detained in Thailand on Tuesday after police discovered they were running a ‘click farm’ from a house near the Cambodian border to generate likes for Chinese products on social media.

The trio was arrested on Sunday after police raided their rental home and discovered a rack of some 500 smartphones hooked up to a computer. Police also confiscated nearly 400,000 Thai SIM cards allegedly purchased for the operation.

The men, in their late twenties and early thirties, told officers they were hired by Chinese companies to boost “likes” for a number of products, including herbal medicines, candy and a tour company.

“They have been charged with working without work permits because they are on tourist visas and smuggling contraband goods,” said immigration officer Colonel Ruengdet Thammana, referring to the mobile phones.

Police decided to search the house after they noticed the men rarely left the building or spoke to other people.Thai Police Bust 'Click Farm' Working With 500 Smartphones, 400,000 SIM Cards to Boost 'Likes'

Click farms are just one of many online scams that have proliferated in recent years and become a major scourge for social media giants. Some farms control tens of thousands of fake social media accounts that can be programmed to like pages or posts.
A typical farm might boast hundreds of phones that scammers swap with different SIM cards registered to many accounts.

Or it might be a loose network of real users liking huge quantities of posts for a fee.

The farms are hired by ordinary people and politicians looking to boost their profiles, companies who want to game ranking algorithms to ensure products are given priority, and fake news writers seeking to get their headlines onto ‘most read’ lists.

India, the Philippines, Indonesia and China – all countries with low wages but high tech penetration – have emerged as key click farm hubs.

Web giants face a constant battle to tweak their algorithms to weed out fake traffic and users.

Last month Facebook said it was making changes to its ranking algorithm to keep its users from linking to “low quality” websites, part of an effort to fight spam and misinformation.

 

Google Pixel XL Successor ‘Muskie’ Reportedly Shelved for ‘Taimen’ With Larger Display

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Google was earlier tipped to launch three phones this year
  • Taimen has been rumoured to feature 4GB of RAM
  • Google Walleye is expected to succeed the regular-sized Pixel smartphone

If you have been following leaks around the second-generation Google Pixel smartphones, you would know that the search giant has been tipped to launch three new devices with codename ‘Walleye’, ‘Muskie’, and ‘Taimen’. Now, the company has reportedly shelved the rumoured successor to Google Pixel XL, i.e Muskie, and will instead go with Taimen, which reportedly features a larger display.

An Android Police report citing sources close to the matter, Google has shelved the device codenamed Muskie and now plans to launch two smartphones, codenamed Walleye and Taimen. While the reason for ditching Muskie has not been revealed, AP says that it has confirmed with multiple independent sources that the information is correct. This means that Muskie has been shelved permanently, Taimen will be the successor to Google Pixel XL, and Walleye will succeed the standard Google Pixel, as had been rumoured earlier.

As per the previously leaked information, Taimen is expected to be powered by an octa-core Qualcomm processor clocked at 1.90GHz. The smartphone, which was previously tipped to be a possible tablet as well, is expected to feature 4GB of RAM and run Android O. Rumours had previously indicated the Pixel successor will feature an improved camera and better processor as well.Google Pixel XL Successor 'Muskie' Reportedly Shelved for 'Taimen' With Larger Display

Considering information available regarding the upcoming Pixel smartphones is sparse, we will have to wait for more leaks to flow in till we can give you some idea of what to expect from the second-generation of Pixel smartphones. As Google Pixel and Pixel XL were launched in October last year, we can expect the next-generation models to arrive around the same time this year.

Google Pixel

Google Pixel

Rs. 43,500
Buy
  • KEY SPECS
  • NEWS

Display

5.00-inch

Processor

1.6GHz quad-core

Front Camera

8-megapixel

Resolution

1080×1920 pixels

RAM

4GB

OS

Android 7.1

Storage

32GB

Rear Camera

12.3-megapixel

Battery Capacity

2770mAh

BUY AT
  • Google Pixel (Very Silver, 32GB)
    Rs. 43,500
  • Google Pixel (Very Silver, 32GB)
    Rs. 44,000
  • Google Pixel (Very Silver, 32GB) – OFFER
    Rs. 44,000
Google Pixel XL

Google Pixel XL

Rs. 52,999
Buy
  • REVIEW
  • KEY SPECS
  • NEWS
  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery life
  • Camera
  • Value for money
  • Good
  • Brilliant low-light photography
  • Fast modern processor
  • Great battery life
  • Google Assistant with localisations for India
  • Bad
  • Not very stylish or eye-catching
  • Expensive
  • No storage expansion
BUY AT
  • Google Pixel XL (Very Silver, 32GB) –
    Rs. 52,999
  • Google Pixel XL (Very Silver, 32GB) – OFFER
    Rs. 54,000
  • Google Pixel XL (Very Silver, 32GB)
    Rs. 57,000

 

70 Percent Mobile Apps Share Your Data With Third-Party Services: Study

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 70% of smartphone apps are reporting personal data to third-party cos.
  • Some of the information these apps are collecting is necessary
  • Lumen Privacy Monitor analyses and reports the traffic apps send out

More than 70 percent of smartphone apps are reporting personal data to third-party tracking companies like Google Analytics, the Facebook Graph API or Crashlytics, warns a new study.

When people install a new Android or iOS app, it asks the user’s permission before accessing personal information. Some of the information these apps are collecting are necessary for them to work properly: A map app wouldn’t be nearly as useful if it couldn’t use GPS data to get a location.

But once an app has permission to collect that information, it can share your data with anyone the app’s developer wants to – letting third-party companies track where you are, how fast you are moving and what you are doing.

To get a picture of what data are being collected and transmitted from people’s smartphones, the researchers from IMDEA Networks Institute in Spain developed a free Android app of their own, called the Lumen Privacy Monitor.

It analyses the traffic apps send out, to report which applications and online services actively harvest personal data.

Because Lumen is about transparency, a phone user can see the information installed apps collect in real time and with whom they share these data.70 Percent Mobile Apps Share Your Data With Third-Party Services: Study

“We try to show the details of apps’ hidden behaviour in an easy-to-understand way. It’s about research, too, so we ask users if they’ll allow us to collect some data about what Lumen observes their apps are doing – but that doesn’t include any personal or privacy-sensitive data,” the researchers said in a statement released by the institute.

This unique access to data allowed the researchers to study how mobile apps collect users’ personal data and with whom they share data at an unprecedented scale.

More than 1,600 people who have used Lumen since October 2015 allowed the researchers to analyse more than 5,000 apps.

“We discovered 598 internet sites likely to be tracking users for advertising purposes, including social media services like Facebook, large Internet companies like Google and Yahoo, and online marketing companies under the umbrella of internet service providers like Verizon Wireless,” the study said.

More than 70 percent of the apps were connected to at least one tracker, and 15 percent of them were connected to five or more trackers, the findings showed.

“Tracking users on their mobile devices is just part of a larger problem. More than half of the app-trackers we identified also track users through websites. Thanks to this technique, called ‘cross-device’ tracking, these services can build a much more complete profile of your online persona,” the researchers said.

 

Google Pushes Virtual Reality Harder With New Phones From Partners

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Huawei announced two phones that will work with Daydream View
  • Asus ZenFone AR will support both Daydream and Google’s Tango
  • Google has stressed that the programs do not overlap for now

Alphabet Inc’s Google quickened the pace of its push into virtual and augmented reality this week as its hardware partners announced new devices featuring the company’s technology at the CES electronics show in Las Vegas.

Google has been trying to position the vast network of smartphones running its Android operating system for virtual and augmented reality, known as VR and AR, fields that many in the technology industry say are poised to go mainstream after years of niche appeal.

Chinese manufacturer Huawei   announced on Thursday that two of its phones will soon work with Daydream View, a VR headset released last year by Google. Meanwhile, Taiwanese manufacturer AsusTek Computer Inc announced that its ZenFone AR will support both Daydream and Google’s Tango software for AR, in which computer-generated content is overlaid on the real world.

While the announcements expand the line-up of participating phones, Google still has much to do to take its technology to the masses, said analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research, noting that Samsung Electronics Co, the largest Android manufacturer, has yet to sign on.

“Google’s ecosystem for both AR and VR is in the very early days,” he said.Google Pushes Virtual Reality Harder With New Phones From Partners

As growth in the global smartphone market shows signs of slowing, some manufacturers are voicing optimism that AR and VR will revive consumer enthusiasm.

“This is the next wave of technology that is really going to get consumers excited about smartphones,” Erik Hermanson, Asus’s head of marketing for mobile products, said at the show.
But mainstream consumer interest in the technology remains largely unproven. Apps might be expected to stimulate demand, but until Google’s technology is available on a wider range of phones, it will be tough to persuade developers to build for the platform, analysts said.

“We are waiting for app developers to really use the platform for what it’s for,” Amit Singh, a vice president for VR at Google, told reporters.

In addition to supporting Daydream, Huawei said that it is exploring opportunities for Tango with Google. The Asus phone became the first to support both technologies.

Google has stressed that the programs do not overlap for now, but by pursuing both, the company can position itself for success regardless of whether AR or VR becomes a mainstream hit.

“By having options for both, they can cover the full potential market,” said analyst Bob O’Donnell of TECHnalysis Research.